I have this aging piece of newspaper in my hand, as I speak. I saved it from Nov. of last year just so I could share the info with you when the osprey came back this spring.
Well, today is the day! It's Learn About Osprey Day!!
Did you know that osprey fly to South America every fall? The birds fly about 2,500 miles in about three weeks only stopping once or twice to rest and feed. They are guided by the stars and smells and wind.
The female and male mate for life. But, one day every Fall the female will just take off by herself. No warning, no preparation. Doesn't even pack a bag!! She just leaves. A couple days later the male finally figures out that she isn't just out 'shopping' for food, that she's gone for the winter so he takes off, too. They don't spend their winters together, either. A friend of mine said that that's why they probably last a lifetime as a couple. They don't vacation together.
In early March one of the birds will return to their nest. The ones I get to observe daily is atop a cell tower just beyond the pond at the apartment complex.
(binoculars and camera zoom help with the distance).
my daughter with the binoculars
I saw one return and then a couple days later I saw the two of them together.
Yesterday Leslie and I witnessed a fight. A male was trying to 'move in' on the couple and got chased off.
If the birds build on cell towers (evidently their favorite place) they build the nest on the southwest corner so that when the chicks learn to fly they take off into the prevailing winds. Last year I watched the chicks being fed and grow and one day I saw one of the parents take a chick for a flying lesson. I assume it was the mom. She flew along with the chick but kept a distance, giving it plenty of room to learn on it's own but close enough if things went wrong. She's dive this way and that encouraging the chick to follow along. That was pretty cool.
two chicks in the nest with one of the parents
An osprey is about 2 feet long with a wingspan of five feet. They can dive up to 3 feet deep into water to grab fish and they carry their prey long ways instead of crossways like an eagle. It helps them fly better with a load.
They live 15 to 20 years. So, it looks like I will get to observe this one couple living on the cell tower for probably as long as I live here. What a treat. In our area of Va. there are about 2,000 nesting couples who will do about 160,000 miles of migrating in their lifetimes. Now, that is a well-traveled pair!
I hope you enjoyed your little lesson on ospreys.
I have linked to Anni's The Bird D'Pot and Wild Bird Wednesday Hope you will visit these sites to see more birds.
info on ospreys was taken from an article in the Suffolk News-Herald newspaper, written by Susan and Biff Andrews.